Once upon a time, buying boots for cold weather was pretty simple. There weren’t that many choices to choose from, and the ones that were available were warm enough to get the job done. But alas, how times change. Now, you not only have to find a shoe that won’t let in the cold, but it also has to be ideal for being on your feet all day long. Today, there are enough winter boots and shoes meant for standing all day to fill an entire online store.
But with more variety comes an even more bewildering array of shoe types to choose from. Depending on your type of job, there are different types and levels of insulation available. As with any purchase, you have to be careful not to make it an overkill by spending too much money on too much insulation. The weight and type will make a very big difference to how long you can stay on your feet as well as how much warmth is maintained in your lower extremities. If you’re going to be standing or walking in cold weather for most of the day, then you need to know what kind of footwear will suit you best. Here’s a guide to the different types of footwear insulation and where they excel.
The Different Types of Insulation
Arguably the most advanced work boot insulating material of all time, Thinsulate is a global favorite due to its heavily insulating capabilities. Since the material uses much smaller fibers than traditional insulation, more Thinsulate can be utilized in the same amount of space. This means that you get plenty of warmth without the added bulk of excessive insulation.
In addition to being lightweight, Thinsulate is designed to retain warmth while wicking away moisture and sweat from the inside. Another benefit is that it does not get padded down and compressed over time, making it a leader in retaining its original properties. Light, flexible, durable and with a broad range of insulation weights, it’s quite easy to see why most people who are on their feet all day prefer Thinsulate insulation.
Yet another popular synthetic fiber insulation, Primaloft was developed in the 80’s for use by the Army. Due to its particular ability to mimic the best features of down insulation, it is commonly referred to as synthetic down. These features include being able to get wet and the dry while retaining high-performance levels. However, down insulation itself is ruined by water which is why we said best features. But like Thinsulate, Primaloft insulation allows for maximized airflow and heat retention without any compression. However, the snuggly comfort and other benefits of Primaloft come at the expense of durability. If you will be standing all day, prepare to deal with some serious bunching.
Felt Liners/ Removable Wool
These are probably the most traditional form of insulation next to some wooly socks. This true method of insulation has been tried and tested for decades and found fit as a convenient, efficient solution. One of the major selling points of removable liners is that they can be removed and allowed to dry out. However, they do not present as much insulation as the other built-in types. Similarly, the fact that they are not built in means that either heat can leak out from the foot, or moisture can leak into the feet.
For those of you new to the world of frozen, Zylex is the name of liners designed by Kamik. Indeed, most Kamik winter shoes come with fixed Thinsulate insulation, but others feature Zylex. There are around 4 different kinds of Zlylex multi layered liners with layers that retain heat, deflect cold and wick moisture. The great thing about Zylex is that you can choose which element you want to incorporate in your shoes.
This is the name of a patented form of lining and insulation that is commonly used in Columbia footwear. It helps regulate body temperature while reflecting your own body heat back to your feet. If you’re sweaty, the material will also wick away moisture. The material, however, may not be so durable and high quality since it’s made to be affordable.
Aerogel is one of the most advanced synthetic insulation materials that is actually derived from real gel. Aerogel is formed when the liquid in the gel is replaced with gas for a light and non-conductive insulation. Since it’s lightweight and acts as a great, excellent thermal insulator by preventing heat loss, it’s ideal for anyone who’s on their feet for hours.
Fleece and Shearling Insulation
Whether real of synthetic, fleece and shearling boots are very popular among many brands. This is because it’s probably one of the coziest, lightest and most comfortable insulation linings on the market. While very warm and cozy, these materials are used more commonly in fashionable and stylish shoes that are intended for everyday use as opposed to extreme cold exposure conditions. Another favorite for anyone looking for light insulation in an all day standing job.
As you have seen, the type of insulation will largely affect how your feet feel at the end of the day. While you never want too little insulation, you also don’t want to overdo it and end up with a steaming shoe. You also have to consider getting a shoe with a gusseted tongue to keep water and cold from seeping through the laces.